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My Take On Kim K’s Met Gala PR Stunt

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

The 2021 Met Gala was earlier this week, and it has taken the internet by storm. Like most, I know little about designer brands or high fashion looks, however, that doesn’t stop me from giving my two cents on the red-carpet lineup. Sharing opinions on the best dressed of the night is one of the highlights of the night, especially on social media.

The fashion is extravagant and bold but most importantly it gets people talking (peep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Tax the Rich’ dress). Visiting Twitter on the evening of the Met Gala is like walking into an explosion of colour, however, this time, it was the absence of colour that really caught my eye.

The theme of this year’s exhibition: In America: A Lexicon of Fashion served many homages to memorable icons, yet of the most surprising looks of the night was brought by none other than Kim Kardashian West.

Dressed in black from head to toe – complete with black face covering, Kim took to the carpet distinguishable only by her signature silhouette. The outfit, designed by Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia featured a T-shirt dress over a bodysuit, worn with a balaclava and matching gloves, which left nothing on show apart from Kim’s sleek long ponytail.

Being PRs, we know exactly what this was.

This publicity stunt (because yes, it was a publicity stunt) sparked a fountain of hilarious memes to commemorate the eye-catching look (you’ll find some of my favourites at the end of this blog), whilst others speculated the meaning behind her attire.

The stunt could have been to commemorate Kanye’s mother Donda, which is also the name of his recently released album in which Kim participated in the promotions. Kim took to Instagram to ask of her haters “What’s more American than a T-shirt head to toe?!”

This may seem a very flippant answer considering it took me several minutes to even spot the ‘t-shirt’ she was wearing. However, she may be actually very smart to not give the real meaning away, instead of letting people speculate and continue the conversation.

Initially, I couldn’t see past the death eater memes but once I did, I began to realise that this PR stunt was actually a pretty clever message. As I mentioned before, even though she was covered head to toe, her famous silhouette was undeniable. It’s a “fame flex” that bolsters just how strong her brand and influence are in the world. She can change or lose form almost entirely and you would still know it’s her. She steals the spotlight without even trying and in this instance, she doesn’t even need to show skin to get attention. She can wear anything and be recognized by the world.

After a carpet full of overdone outfits, her take was somewhat refreshing. No one has ever done this before, particularly because no one has her fame or the guts to do it. Who else could make this work? She is metaphorically screaming ‘only I can do this, and I own it.’

Love or hate Kim, you can’t deny she gets excellent media coverage!

And, as promised, some more of my favourite memes of the night:

 

Featured image credit: Twitter.

A Summer Of Sport & PR Disasters

It’s been a fantastic summer of sport with the Olympics, Euros and a Lions series in South Africa, let alone all the smaller sporting occasions that take place every week across the country.  All have been achieved despite the global restrictions and regulations in place to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s been an amazing feat of organisation and also a welcome opportunity for brands to leverage sponsorships and get their products in front of a pent-up audience looking to spend their cash that’s been accumulated in lockdown.

However, it seems that for many, the promise of PR gold did not quite materialise and in many cases, PR disasters were never far from the surface.

The Coca Cola x UEFA Blunder

Let’s start with Coca Cola multi-million pound sponsorship of the UEFA European Championship.  On one hand, this could have been a fantastic opportunity to promote the brand to a young, vibrant and global audience. However, it ended up being a complete disaster when the tournament’s leading star Cristiano Ronaldo moved two promotional bottles away from the cameras at Portugal’s pre-match press conference, urging viewers to drink water instead.  The action led to Coca Cola’s share price dropping by 1.6 per cent and $4bn being knocked off the company’s share price.  Though rectified in future conferences, the debacle made headlines all over the world, and it’s fair to say that in this instance – the publicity isn’t exactly what Coca Cola were looking for.

Toyota Throws Its Money Down The Drain

When it comes to the Olympics, title sponsor Toyota won gold when it comes to PR disasters after the company decided not to air any of its advertisements that associated the brand with the games, for fear of a backlash by concerned customers who did not want the games to go ahead due to the fear of spreading Covid.

Not only did Toyota pull its adverts, but the sponsor was also banned from the opening ceremony and opted not to attend the games in any way. This all comes despite Toyota becoming the first car company to ever sign up as a worldwide Olympic sponsor in 2015 in, an eight-year deal reportedly worth nearly $1bn.

Toyota Chief Communications Officer Jun Nagata said: “There are many issues with these Games that are proving difficult to be understood.”  It seems a bit late in the day for such comments.

Vodafone Falls Short Of Positive PR

Finally, as a rugby fan, I should also mention the Lions rugby series in South Africa.  An occasion that only comes up every 4 years and every 12 years in South Africa.  The on field scraps and poor criticisms of the referees have left a bitter feeling towards the event with many feeling that the occasion is heading towards its sell by date.

Although title sponsor Vodafone did well in engaging with fans at home, for its estimated £6.5m sponsorship fee, the company was unable to capitalise on an event that is typically enjoyed by thousands of travelling fans.  The games had to take place behind closed doors and the opportunities brands had to associate themselves with positive PR projects in the host country were dramatically reduced (despite an 1800% increase in the sponsorship cost they incurred when compared to their initial sponsorship in 1997).

In previous years, we’ve seen support in townships and deprived areas of the country which allowed for the brand to build its image and illustrate its CSR credentials.  This time around, players were sadly required to lock themselves in isolation bubbles in some of the country’s finest hotels.

The Risk & Reward Of Big Brand Sponsorships

So what’s the answer?  For me, there seems a growing disconnect between the cost / benefit to supporting such occasions.  There’s also a growing potential for a PR disaster if a star snubs your product or the public turn against the event that you have spent millions of pounds supporting and associating yourself with.

From a public relations perspective, winning hearts and minds is most important. So, before entering the agreements, consider the ‘what ifs’ and have plans in place to mitigate the issues or crisis communication challenges should they emerge.

The real opportunity comes from leveraging the sponsorship through campaigns and initiatives within the target communities.  Of all the marketing mediums, PR is best placed to build relationships with consumers and to help brands share their values through engaging and meaningful communications.

So for a marketing gold medal, talk to us and let us devise a PR campaign that is effective and engaging – rather than spending thousands on product placement or relatively worthless brand associations.

Top Tips For Smashing Your ‘Virtual’ PR Placements

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

To say that Covid has impacted our lives in more ways than one would be an understatement. Just one of the (many) groups to be affected by ongoing restrictions is college and university students. Many will have been planning on embarking on placements this summer and last, but due to restrictions, many of these will have been cancelled or moved online. Below, with my experience, I’m going to go over my top tips on smashing your virtual PR placements, which can still give you some top tier industry experience.

Benefits of ‘virtual PR placements’

Placements are important for students because they provide a learning experience that cannot be taught in the classroom. Summer placements or even ‘year in industry’ placements offer students a glance into the real world. What will life be like after graduation? It’s crucial that students get this opportunity to dip their toes into the world of work before their time in education is up, as going into a career without an inkling of what it is like in real life could be a devastating reality check for some.

Not to mention, job hunting without experience is a nightmare!

With that being said, most placements have gone virtual to allow students to get that valuable experience safely during this period. For me, my internship at The Source also moved online for a period. When the Covid-19 restrictions came into play, I was no longer commuting to the office and sitting at my desk surrounded by our team, instead I was working from my bed, the sofa, the floor… Basically any quiet place I could find that day!

I was communicating with the team via email, WhatsApp, and voice notes.

It was an adjustment, to say the least, but after a few weeks of trial and error, I finally got into a rhythm that worked for me. With summer placements on the horizon, I thought now would be a good time to pass on some tips for smashing your virtual PR placements.

Tips For Virtual PR Placements

Designate a workspace

Whilst many of you will have probably been sat at a desk during your virtual PR placements, that can be difficult to do from home unless you have a home office. Even then, that space may be occupied by others living in your house. In this case, set up an area of your house to use as a workspace. Sitting down in this space sends a clear signal to your brain that it’s time to focus. This is really helpful for productivity but it’s also good for creating a good work-life balance, so you’re not working in the same place that you’re spending your free time.

Take the time to go about your normal morning routine

Eat breakfast, take a shower, and get dressed for the day. Designate some work clothes, even if it’s just a loungewear set. Try to avoid remaining in your pyjamas all day, trust me, it only makes you sleepy. If you prefer to do your hair and makeup, then go for it, looking good makes you feel good right?

Make a to-do list

Perhaps one of the most important tips for managing your virtual PR placements! If your emails are piling up with assignments, write them down. Either generate a digital schedule (Asana is a great online organisation tool) or jot it down with pen and paper and stick it in a visible place. If you’re particularly organised, you could even come up with a detailed to-do list that’s broken down into categories based on importance. Regardless, this list will be your best friend as well as your arch-nemesis. After a long day, looking at all the tasks I have completed gives me a little boost whilst also allowing me to schedule the things I didn’t manage to get through today for tomorrow, so they don’t get lost in the next morning’s influx of emails.

asana

This is the Asana project management tool (credit: Asana)

Collaborate with your team

Sharing ideas with each other will improve your projects and you can make new friends in the process. Most companies will set you up with a way of contacting the team, whether it’s via teams, zoom or even WhatsApp so there’s no excuse! At Source, we use Google Hangouts as well as email and of course, picking up the phone, to communicate – but different channels will work for different teams and people.

Communication is key

Remember that. Do not be afraid to ask questions. You are there to learn (and work) and they are there to help. By asking questions you not only gain extra knowledge, but you also gain the skills and information needed to complete the task. Just because you can’t ask questions face to face, doesn’t mean you should put them off. The experience gained from PR work experience is often invaluable when it comes to finding work as a postgraduate, so don’t be afraid to ask anything and everything.

Behave as you would in the office

Last but not least, don’t treat your virtual PR placements any differently than an in-person placement. You should always be timely and productive. Maintain that professional mentality.

Hopefully these tips help someone, and whilst working from home during this time may not be what you planned, you can still make the most of it. Get that experience and put it towards your future. You won’t regret it.

Crisis Communications & Why You Should Have Plans In Place

An organisation’s reputation is intrinsically linked with its ability to secure sales, attract top talent or even to charge a premium. Well regarded business also benefit from loyal customers who buy a broader ranges of goods and tell others.  So if reputation is all important why not ensure you have you crisis communication plans in place?

As Benjamin Franklin said; “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Sadly however, most organisations do an inadequate job of managing their reputations, only focussing their energies when a problem has already surfaced.

So what should companies do to protect against reputational damage? The answer depends on the type, complexity and size of the organisation but there are some basic rules of thumb.

Firstly; have a crisis communications plan in place. Organisations should ensure they have the capability and capacity to  respond to negative press, social media or customer complaints. Issues can move quickly but can often be predicted – having a crisis communications plan allow a company to be responsive, co-ordinated and consistent in what it wants to convey, to who and when.

Secondly, be honest.  An organisation that communicates honestly can even build greater trust with its stakeholders in the long term, while one that appears dishonest can undermine confidence and prolong a problem.

Thirdly, get support.  When a crisis hits it can be all consuming.  Customers, suppliers and employees will all need reassurance as well as the media and/or any public authority.  All should be included in the crisis communication plan but business leaders should focus on what they do best and seek professional support to help in other areas.

Identify the members of the crisis communication team and can allocate roles and responsibilities.  This can include simple actions like who should act as spokesperson and whether more than one is needed depending on the enquiry?  Also consider who will field media calls, monitor social media and is there back up required for each role?   The plan should include contact information for all team members including personal mobile phone numbers.

A crisis communications plan shouldn’t predetermine what to say and don’t script the responses – instead focus on developing the key messages you can plan in advance as well as key company information.  Where possible anticipate what the questions may be and how the organisation should respond.  In preparing the responses, consider the who, what, when, why and how and the below offer a useful guide:

  • What was the cause of the crisis?
  • A brief description / understanding of what happened
  • Provide a timetable for future plans and actions
  • Communicate compassion for any victims of the crisis
  • Involve supporters and any emergency service responses

Although many crises can’t be planned in advance, there’s no excuse not to have a plan in place for when one crops up.  The old adage stands true that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, often with devastating consequences to an organisation’s name and all important reputation.

To help develop your crisis communication plan, contact a member of our experienced team and let us support you through the process.

Which Degree Is Best For A Career In PR?

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

Most of us understand the pressure of choosing the right degree. It can be stressful figuring out what career path you want to take, and when you add all the possible degree options there are available nowadays – it can become very overwhelming. We all want to pick the right degree for us; one that will give us a head start in our chosen field for sure, but one we know that we will enjoy. However, with multiple routes into the world of PR it can be confusing to know which degree to choose.

PR is a complex industry and there are many aspects to it. So, as you can probably imagine, there are a broad range of degrees for you to choose from that will give you a helping hand when it comes to getting the job you want. I hope that from my experience I can shed some light onto the best options for you if you are thinking about a career in PR and take away some of that stress.

More Arts, Less STEM

You don’t have to have studied PR or marketing, to enter the PR industry. In fact, many people working in PR don’t even have degrees. Having said that, the transition out of education and into the workplace is likely to be easier and less bumpy for those who took subjects focused on communicating. Traditionally, subjects like Politics, History, English, Philosophy and even Foreign Languages tend to produce graduates better suited for PR than those with STEM degrees, for example. Although, given our growing reliance on technology, these degrees still absolutely play an important role in the evolving nature of communications too. If you have a passion for storytelling and communicating, then there’s likely a role in PR for you – no matter your educational background.

Which Degree Is Best For PR?

PR (Public Relations)

With PR degrees, the risk is that – in this fast-evolving industry – the course content can become out-of-date quite quickly. Another risk is that students may enter the workplace only to find that the working reality is VERY different from the theory. This is why I believe that PR work experience or a year in industry is essential for any PR degree. If you’re looking to go down this route, do make sure you look at courses with a placement year. Equally, try and line up lots of work experience either in-agency or in-house whilst studying; most universities will encourage and even assist you with getting relevant experience. If you’d like to learn more about how to gain PR work experience, you can read my blog on this by clicking here.

Arts & Business

Courses like Creative Writing or Art can help students develop their creative and compelling storytelling skills; something that is highly valued in PR. A creative brain produces innovative ideas and can become a highly valuable asset to a team when brainstorming strategies and avoiding repetition. Additionally, anyone who studies a business degree will understand the importance of marketing as a whole. As well as this, they will be masters at forward-thinking and possess great strategic knowledge that provides creatives with the commercial vision they need to improve performance.

Journalism

Journalism courses tend to teach students how to write all styles of articles, edit using multiple programs and curate content for multiple media outlets. They provide a kind of flexibility that other courses struggle to when it comes to specialising. Courses like this also aid in building communicative skills. Experience is also key here, and even PR experience is considered valid for a journalism degree. Many of those who have studied or worked in journalism move over to the PR industry, and their skills are invaluable to our practice.

English Language & Literature

As PR is all about understanding audiences’ behaviour and harnessing creativity, courses like English, Psychology and Journalism may give graduates a head start. English can also be paired with a variety of subjects with many relevant links, so do look into joint-honours degrees. With a BA in English, you will develop excellent written and oral communication skills, making you perfect for PR. Crucially, you’ll also learn to write well. This not only includes proper grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation, it means learning to write in a manner that is engaging and effective. Many courses may focus on writing but none to the extent of an English degree that allows you to hone your skills as a writer and communicator. You’ll also learn to read analytically. Being able to take in information and understand it before reframing this information so it can be understood by others, is a skill that is necessary for a successful career in PR.

At Source PR, our staff hold a mixed bag of degrees, including English Literature, Business & PR and Geography. PR is as about personality, imagination, creation, people skills and application. As long as you have these skills you are sure to succeed, regardless of your choice of university degree. Don’t stress and make sure to explore all your options. Happy hunting!

WHY COMMUNITY MATTERS IN YOUR PR STRATEGY

Community relations – sometimes known as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) – can be overlooked in the face of immediate, tangible benefits. However, a good PR strategy will consider community and the value of it for your brand. Whether that’s using your platform to champion smaller businesses, or actively supporting charities and organisations.

This was proven very recently on April 12th, as pub beer gardens opened across England as part of the Government Roadmap. With the hospitality industry arguably one of the hardest hit amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Tesco decided they would dedicate their advertising space on this monumental day to a better cause. On Monday, they launched the following ad in multiple English newspapers.

Tesco April 12th Print Ad

This kind of media coverage would have been costly, so the idea that Tesco used it to champion smaller, local outlets as opposed to their own business, was very well received. It’s the perfect example as to why community relations matter in any PR strategy. Whether your business is large or small, you cannot go wrong with CSR.

Let’s explore why…

Why You Should Consider The Role Of Community Relations In PR

Community relations are so important to any brand for a multitude of reasons. Some of which include:

  • Building a better brand reputation
  • Making your brand more recognisable in the local area
  • Giving your brand a personality
  • Showing consumers that they’re buying from a brand that cares

For these reasons and many more, is why a whole host of brands work hard on their CSR strategies. Community relations isn’t a black and white area of PR, there are different things that businesses can be doing to improve their image, and it doesn’t matter how big or small your brand is. Some of the things a business can do include:

  • Adopting a sustainability policy
  • Fundraising for charity
  • Donating a portion of sales to charity, such as a % of a sale from a certain product
  • Using a bigger platform to champion smaller businesses
  • Working with local schools and organisations
  • Supporting employees and their own community initiatives
  • Backing smaller sports teams
  • Lobbying for change using your own platforms
  • And so much more (why not ask us what would work best for your brand?)

Why The Tesco Ad Worked

Going back to Tesco and their print advertisement, though it didn’t directly promote their products, it still helped to give the brand a push and generate positive coverage. Tesco’s selfless community relations act ended up returning far more than we can assume a traditional advert would have. Results included more conversation on social media and more positive feelings towards the brand.

Tesco Exaxample Of Community Relations

This links into the age-old debate that PR is not always about ROI and sales. It’s about building a better and more engaging brand. One people recognise as caring and community-driven. This reputation is worth way more than a single newspaper advert. Furthermore, Tesco still got great coverage in the online media as well as from their print ads. Not to mention the fantastic reaction on social media. A traditional advert would never have piqued attention quite like this.

Whilst linking up and supporting your community – whether on a local or national level – might not return immediate sales, it’s a crucial brand-building exercise that any good PR strategy should consider.  At Source PR, we often work with our clients to bring them together with the local area. We often support with this kind of community relations PR work with Miller Homes, one of our clients in the property industry. If you’re interested in finding out more about how this works in a PR strategy, read our case study. Want to know more? Why not reach out to our team?

FINDING WORK EXPERIENCE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

Work experience is something we’ve all heard of. Whether at high school or university level, every teacher I’ve ever had has stressed the importance of ascertaining some sort of experience before I graduate.

Being able to detail relevant work experience on your CV will help you stand out when applying for graduate jobs. It’s a real selling point to employers if you can show that you have experience in your field or have been able to hold down a steady job whilst studying.

Any sort of experience is better than none and luckily, there’s an abundance of ways to step on the ladder.

What Kinds Of Work Experience Is There?

Internships

For those wanting to take their first steps into the working world, an internship is a great way to start.

Internships are usually the first port of call when it comes to giving your CV an emphatic boost and can be very helpful in helping you navigate your chosen field. As well as this, internships can also be invaluable in deciding whether your chosen profession really is the career path for you.

Internships are also often very flexible in terms of duration with some lasting only a few days and others a whole year. What is perhaps worth considering is that in all cases, is that it’s best to start early, as the competition can be tough.

Summer/Part-Time Jobs

Perhaps one of the best things about university is the way in which you can introduce yourself to the working world at a leisurely pace.

Internships are not for everyone, however, there is something incredibly rewarding about getting a job to help with finances and experience.

If you don’t wish to commit to an internship, then what about a part time job for work experience?

Hospitality work is obviously the go-to industry in many instances, but anything goes. It all counts as experience and it looks far better on your CV than blank space. You can even squeeze these jobs into the summer holiday if working during semester time is too stressful for you.

Societies

Often overlooked, being part of a society can work wonders for your career prospects and give you some great work experience. It can offer you the opportunity to test your skills of organisation, delegation, events creation, finance management and more importantly, interpersonal relationship building.

You don’t even need to be high up in the ranks.

Simply taking up a role within a society shows a willingness to work together with others. It will hone your ability to work towards a common goal and help you network with others you might not otherwise have the chance to interact with on campus.

Volunteering

A combination of both the easiest and hardest thing to do, volunteering can provide many benefits to a future career (with the added feel-good bonus that comes from helping others).

It can be tricky getting a foot in the door initially – however it is worth the time and effort.

At the same time, volunteering can often be a far more exciting option than a paid placement – sometimes even leading to travel across the globe.

Put simply, volunteering your time can be an incredibly rewarding work experience in terms of personal and professional growth.

However, I know this isn’t for everyone as it wasn’t for me either. With financial situations as they are it can sometimes be hard to justify an unpaid placement over a steady income.

At the end of the day, experience is experience so don’t feel pressured to do the one that ‘looks better’ because any path you take you’ll be one step closer to that dream graduate job.

Whatever you decide, the bottom line is this: all forms of work experience are beneficial. I really valued my work experience, I met some great people and got to experience first-hand just what it was like to work in the PR industry.

In fact, I loved it so much that I decided to stay on and here I am 18 months later.

HOW POETRY CAN BE USED IN COMMUNICATIONS

This article first appeared in Creative Moment and was written by Janet Hare.

Poetry has been around for thousands of years and has given the UK alone heaps of famous and infamous poets such as Chaucer, Keats, Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, Robbie Burns, Sylvia Plath and many, many more.

Typically though it is known as a niche market, with long-form novels selling far more copies than even the most popular poet. Although Nielsen BookScan did report a 12% increase in poetry book sales in its 2018 report.

Most people see poetry as something they had to learn at school and were pleased to leave behind as they reached adulthood.

And it’s definitely not known as the dominant written form in our lives today. That accolade probably belongs to text speak, alas.

So, if that is the case, then why is poetry being used so much these days in marketing and communications?

Many big UK brands and their ad agencies have taken to using poetry in their broadcast advertising over the last 12 months or so. Nationwide and Co-op are two such companies., as well as EE and OVO.

Starting in 2016, Nationwide ran a series of ads along the theme of ‘voices’ which were designed to highlight the life and diversity of British society. The campaign was brought to life by 31 spoken word poets who lived and worked across the UK. They were given broad themes to work from and wrote original poetry under the subjects such as home, family, friendship.

The campaign apparently helped the building society grow its share of switched accounts to 20%.

It was during that year that I first saw and heard Matt Abbott’s ‘This place is ours’, his poem for Nationwide on what home meant to him. It totally held me captive whilst he talked about his Mum’s roast dinner and dressing gowns being worn all day in his Yorkshire tones. This was real life. This spoke to me.

The Voices campaign has been so successful for Nationwide that it’s still running now. In 2020 it even featured poems about the Covid pandemic from the likes of Matt Abbott and his partner Maria Ferguson, titled ‘A message to ourselves/myself in 6 months’ time.’ The Covid-time ads focussed on the theme of how things would be different in the future.

Nationwide The Voices Campaign

Image credit: The Drum

Since then, and particularly in the last 12 months, I have seen numerous other companies take to poems to express themselves in TV ads, such as the Co-op with its ‘Power of hope’ campaign which used a poem based on spoken word artist Sarah Adedeji, ‘All the people giving double’, about people’s struggles and double efforts during Covid. Even Coca-Cola has got in on the act using spoken word artist George the Poet in its TV ad marking the cultural significance of the pandemic.

So why? Why is poetry suddenly being used to communicate messages?

The answer seems simple. Empathy.

Advertisers and communicators recognise that people have turned introspective during the pandemic, spending more time contemplating. Contemplating what is important in life. And spending more time at home has given people more time to be aware of their feelings. They’ve had time to stop and think. Advertisers have recognised this. They have read the room and realised that empathy is where it’s at with good communication right now.

And it’s not only advertisers that have become aware of this. President Biden’s inauguration in the US didn’t just feature pomp and ceremony and politicians giving speeches and elbow bumps. It featured a young, black, female poet, Amanda Gorman delivering ‘The hill we climb’ poem she wrote for the occasion.

In the hours following the ceremony, social media erupted with astonishment at how powerful the poem was and how amazing Amanda, the US youth poet laureate, was in her delivery. The positive media coverage continued the next day and beyond. The impact it made was incredible.

Why did the Biden administration decide to use poetry for this world-stage event? Because they read the room and knew with all the turbulent times the country had seen, what they needed to do now to appeal to the population was show what hadn’t been shown before. Empathy.

I fully expect that Amanda Gorman’s performance will only further propel the use of poetry in communication and as an English Literature grad, that’s something that I look forward to very much.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED ABOUT PR FOR HISTORIC HOUSES

Having a rural PR division, we have represented various countryside historic houses over the years, with one of the best examples of our work coming from current client Combermere Abbey, which is a 12th-century abbey based on the Cheshire/Shropshire border. Other examples of venues that we’ve worked with include the Cholmondeley Estate, Adlington Hall and the Wiston Estate in Sussex. Handling PR for historic houses is a tricky aspect of marketing to navigate, as there are often a lot of moving parts as well as many things to learn; but with such a wealth of experience in this field, we’ve learned a thing or two that we’re going to share with you today.

PR For Historic Houses: Our Lessons Learned

There are so many things we’ve learned over the years at The Source from the various clients we’ve worked with, we cover both B2B and B2C industries – as well as having specialities in rural PR and marketing; this means that the team have adept knowledge of the multiple sectors in which we’ve worked. Historic houses PR is one good example, we’ve worked with multiple venues and though each is different, there are universal lessons to be learned from all.

  1. You have to become a total expert

When you work with a historic house, you have to be prepared to learn a LOT. They are called historic houses for a reason – because they have a wealth of history. We put our all into learning everything there is to know about our clients and their backgrounds – no matter how many centuries that may span over. We’d definitely recommend spending time with your client, in person if you can, learning all there is to know. One of the first things you should be doing is taking a guided tour of the venue if that’s an option for you.

  1. Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances

You should have contingency plans in place for all clients, but for historic houses in particular. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted so many businesses and has not spared the tourism industry. If you’re handling PR for historic houses, there’s a good chance you’ll be promoting tours, open days, overnight stays, perhaps even weddings. All of these had to cease at one point over the last year due to Coronavirus. We’d recommend being well prepared for any eventuality like this and keep an eye on what support there is too. Luckily in 2021, we have had clients who were the recipient of the Culture Recovery Fund, outlined by the Government DCMS and was supported by The National Lottery.

  1. You’ll manage mini sectors all within one business

Most historic houses, especially those that are privately owned, will have multiple strands of their business to generate revenue. For example, open days, tours and overnight stays are commonplace amongst the clients that we have represented. Sometimes even weddings. This means that you’ll be promoting multiple different offerings under one entity, you’ll need to practice specific PR skills, such as travel, local, wedding and more, all of which do differ. The more you’ll work on the accounts, the more you’ll learn and that’s what makes this kind of PR so rewarding.

  1. Get ready to engage with multiple organisations

One of the best things about managing communications for historic houses is that you’ll find there’s a lot of localised support. We work closely with local organisations such as Historic Houses, Marketing Cheshire, VistEngland and Visit Shropshire to further promote our clients to lovers of local attractions and heritage. These groups can be instrumental in your strategy, as you know their audiences are going to be interested in the venues you’re marketing.

  1. You’ll think you know everything… But you never fully will

In our first point, we said that you need to be prepared to become a total expert around the historic houses that you work with, and that’s true, but also expect to never stop learning. When your client has centuries of history, there are always more stones to be overturned, and that’s why we love working with venues like this so much. In PR, they say you never stop learning, and it’s safe to say that we can certainly relate.

  1. There’s so much to love

At Source PR, we become an extension of your team, whether that’s working with marketing, sales or even business owners. We become so passionate about the businesses we work for, and we’ve found that to be our experience when working with historic houses in particular. When you manage PR for historic houses, you learn so much about them, and you play an important part in bringing the magic of them alive for many people. We live and breathe our clients, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Support With PR For Historic Houses

If you’re a historic house owner or manager in the UK in need of PR, social media, digital or marketing support, then please do get in touch. We’d love to show you what we can do. You can speak to our team via the contact form on our website, or by calling 01829 720 789. Or you can find out more about our most recent PR work for historic houses by reading the case studies on our site.

PR & MARKETING STRATEGY – IS YOUR BUSINESS READY FOR LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN?

As we approach the end of Lockdown Mark III, the government believes that the UK economy will bounce back like a ‘coiled spring’. The question is, are you ready for a return to normality, what are you doing to prepare yourselves and have you got their marketing strategy in place to maximise opportunities? If not, now is the time to take action before it’s too late.

The Bank of England suggests that consumer spending is set to surge with that the British public having saved as much as £250 billion while being locked up. Restaurants, pubs and bars are the likely immediate benefactors as well as UK holiday providers, but all these industries have suppliers and employ people who, who when earning again, will look to treat themselves after months of curtailment.

We have talked earlier about the importance of maintaining a marketing presence during lockdown and have an excellent case study of Combermere Abbey, one of the region’s leading wedding venues and accommodation providers, on how they managed it so well. The case study shows how the business was forced to close due to the Covid restrictions but rather than twiddle thumbs, took proactive measures so they were well placed to take advantage when the lockdown was lifted.

Businesses preparing for the lifting of what is believed to be the ‘last lockdown’ should also consider how the economy has been permanently altered since March 2020. Consumer spending habits, lifestyles and trends have been shifted online, people have adopted new hobbies and outlooks, and it is hard to see how the high street can bounce back without innovation or embracing more digital opportunities.

It is not just the hospitality and retail industries that is expected to bounce back, but house builders and construction industries are also likely to benefit as people look to either move home or make renovations following months of being in lockdown. A report from our client Miller Homes suggests that lifestyles have been changed by the pandemic with more home working or a demand for more outdoor space. These new ways of living and working present clear marketing opportunities.

The use of social media has also grown significantly as users feel that they have a safe space to interact, be entertained, distract themselves, and find inspiration without any risk of contagion. July 2020 saw a rise of 10.5% in social media usage, compared with July 2019, according to a GlobalWebIndex survey. Some 46% of women and 41% of men said they’ve spent more time on social media during the pandemic, making it the second-most popular digital activity.

Businesses should alter their marketing approach to reflect this and have a marketing and social media strategy in place that maximises the opportunities presented. It’s likely that the space will remain competitive and it will be the brands that have relationships with their customers and who are able to excite, entice and engage that will come out strongest.

If you’re looking for a PR or marketing strategy, the team would be delighted to have a chat to understand where you are, what the vision is and to help pull plans together so you can get there. The end of the ‘last lockdown’ is fast approaching, make sure you are ready like a ‘coiled spring’ to take your opportunities.